When I read Mindy Kaling’s words in her interview with Flare magazine, I and many other reproductive rights advocates were confused and frustrated:
“It would be demeaning to the topic [of abortion] to talk about it in a half-hour sitcom.”
How would it be “demeaning” to talk about abortion in a sitcom about a gynecologist’s office? Many sitcoms have talked openly about abortion, including Girls and Sex and the City, as well as recent films, like Obvious Child. In its first two seasons, Kaling’s show, The Mindy Project, has tackled many issues related to reproductive health care, such as the distribution of condoms, birth control, and teen sex. Why not abortion?
But then I remembered, it always comes back to stigma—in this case, abortion provider stigma.
Half of women in the United States will experience an unintended pregnancy, and one in three will have an abortion before she turns 45. Kaling’s character, Dr. Mindy Lahiri, would surely see patients who want pregnancy options counseling, and some of those patients would likely seek an abortion. Why wouldn’t she provide them with one in her practice, or at least refer them to an abortion provider?